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Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber's Review Team
The Red Door is a dark mystery set in Australia, and the main character is artist Maddie who has bought a mansion, 'Rosalind', letting out apartments to tenants. As she is completing her renovations, she begins to have suspicions about the tenant in number three, who won't let her in. This is all linked to some local murders that occurred in the 1950s. There are unanswered questions surrounding Maddie herself, too.
The book is illustrated by Ms Fedele, and these pictures are really lovely; I just wished my kindle was bigger so I could see them better. Honestly, they're gorgeous. She's a very good writer, too; her dialogue is realistic, sharp and often amusing (thank you for 'blessed are the cheese makers'!), with each character cleverly observed and clearly defined. I was immediately entertained by Maddie's friends, unconventional Annie and bitchy, self-obsessed Monique, and tenant Mrs Hewitson; her dialogue was excellent. Maddie has a young friend, a schoolgirl called Claudia; there is intrigue surrounding her, and her apparently unpleasant family situation, from the beginning. There's room for a secret love affair or two, as well...
Some of the writing is a real joy to read. The problem I had with the book is that it's very disjointed, with new characters/situations/locations appearing every few pages. It switches between points of view without any introduction, as though the author had stuck in bits in as she thought of them without any thought for structure. One minute I'd be reading from Maddie, in the first person, and then after just a tiny line of asterisks I'd find I was reading a third person conversation between Annie and Monique ABOUT Maddie, then it would be back to the main character in the first person talking to Jo about Monique and some other characters, then Birgitta would appear and talk about a lot of new people, and hang on, who are we with now? Oh, I see, it's Claudia, in the third person, and some more names to remember.... if my eyes missed the tiny asterisks, as they did on occasion, I'd be left thinking, eh? What's going on here?
Ms Fedele is clearly a very talented artist and writer; the plot's clever, the writing is atmospheric, intelligent and sometimes quite beautiful—for this itself the book is worthy of 4.5 or 5*. The problem was that it was difficult to read, with such a confusing and jerky structure that I couldn't enjoy it properly. If you can get past this, it's great, and the chopping and changing does lessen after the first third; I think it just needs planning out better and a really good edit to streamline and perhaps trim out some of the unnecessary information. Then, I think it would be the really terrific book it deserves to be.